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Fountain Valley man could get up to 20 years in prison for smuggling Asian songbirds

A Fountain Valley man who pleaded guilty in July to smuggling 93 Asian songbirds in his luggage on a flight from Vietnam to Los Angeles could face a maximum of 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced this month.

All but eight birds died during the flight or soon after, authorities said.

Kurtis Law, 50, who also lives in Vietnam, pleaded guilty July 11 to a federal charge of smuggling goods into the United States, according to federal court documents.

U.S. District Judge Manuel Real is expected to sentence Law in Los Angeles on Oct. 16. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Law’s attorney, Asal Akhondzadeh, did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Federal authorities allege that Law stuffed the songbirds, which he called “feathered friends,” into his luggage and boarded a flight from Vietnam to Los Angeles International Airport on March 24.

According to the U.S. attorney’s office, the songbirds were “placed in Law’s suitcases in a way that allowed each bird little or no movement.”

Investigators discovered that several of the birds were members of species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, a treaty among governments known at CITES, according to federal prosecutors.

The protected birds found in the luggage were Bali myna, Chinese hwamei, silver-eared mesia and red-billed leiothrix, according to prosecutors.

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